Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Informed Patient

While driving to work the other day I was listening to a radio program on which they were interviewing a representative of the American Cancer Society. She was assigned to educate the public about nutrition and exercise programs for prevention. She shared that ACS did a recent survey of a large cross section of Americans asking the following questions:

Do you believe your risk of heart disease can be affected by dietary changes? 90% of participants answered yes.

Do you believe your risk of diabetes can be affected by dietary changes? 60% of participants answered yes.

Do you believe your risk of cancer can be affected by dietary changes? 10% of participants answered yes.

I was surprised by the answer to the cancer question. I thought more people would have an understanding of the bearing nutrition has on their overall health. The American Heart Association has done a great deal of work educating the public about heart disease and proper diet, but apparently there is work to be done regarding nutritional education for other health risks.

With access to the internet information is available to us now more than ever. It is important for you to assume the role of the proactive, self-informed patient with any issues regarding your health. So much can be done to improve your health in small ways everyday. Our practice was developed to help the people of our community to proactively learn about their health instead of waiting for disease. We want to help provide the support you need to improve your long term health profile and help you reach your personal goals.

This link: will take you to a 2006 article by the ACS about cancer prevention and nutrition. It is one place to start.

This link:  will take you to a study published in Alternative Medicine Review that gives information about various nutrients role in the prevention of disease. Additionally, our office has copies available of several other studies regarding specific nutrients and their relation to wellness. We want our patients to be empowered with information that makes sense to them. We are here to provide support to you as you seek the tools necessary to improve your health.

“A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why Worry?

From Martha Beck’s Article 20 Questions That Could Change Your Life

Why worry?
These two words, considered sincerely, can radically reconfigure the landscape of your mind. Worry rarely leads to positive action; it's just painful, useless fear about hypothetical events, which scuttles happiness rather than ensuring it. Some psychologists say that by focusing on gratitude, we can shut down the part of the brain that worries. It really works!

When making decisions of course we need logic and reason. However we want to make sure the genuis centers of our brain – the frontal lobes, are active when making decisions and not the more primitive hind brain which is more designed to deal with stress situations. Interestingly the best way to ‘fire up’ the frontal lobes is by having sincere heart based feelings of joy and gratitude. This shuts down the activity of the stress centers and powers up the frontal lobes.

This portion of Martha Beck's article really struck a cord with me. I went straight to Google Scholar to find proof that this was actually true. I could spend the next 30 days searching the available results but then asked myself “Why?”. I already know it works.

Off and on for years I have  kept a gratitude journal next to my bed. When my mind is spinning and keeping me awake I go back to the journal. I make note of at least 5 things that I am grateful for that occurred during my day. Like magic my focus changes to positive thoughts and I am no longer lying awake trying to change the world. There is my proof. Give it a try and let us know if it works for you.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How Stress Makes Us Fat

If we learn to think of our stress mechanism as an ancient response to danger we can understand how stress makes us fat.  Our ancestors lived in small groups, hunting and foraging. Danger, for instance, lack of food, would activate the stress mechanism, elevating cortisol levels and causing the entire chemistry of the body to change. The body would go into storage mode and hold on to all the energy eaten.  In those days food was not plentiful, now in the 21st century we live in constant stress surrounded by an abundance of food. Our ancient stress mechanism doesn't know the difference between mental or emotional stress and a famine. We go into storage mode.  Deep breathing, restful sleep, yoga can all effect weight loss by lowering our stress and telling the body it's ok to use our food as energy today rather than save for later.          Christine Blakeney, D.O.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Health is Wholeness and Balance

“Health is wholeness and balance, an inner resilience that allows you to meet the demands of living without being overwhelmed.”
—  Andrew Weil, MD

How very simple. What a gift it would be to deliver this to the doorstep of the tired masses that trudge through their responsibilities each day. It sounds like a big undertaking, but maybe it could be very simple.

We become overwhelmed because we are constantly bombarded by demands. Our, family, our coworkers, our friends, pets and neighbors all take a little piece of our day. The sum of these little pieces is an erratic equation that we try to solve through constant noise singing in our brains.

What if we could turn off the noise? What if we felt liberated enough to say no to requests of our time? What if we carved out a small space of time each day to find peace and spaciousness around us? Things would be better, wouldn’t they? Maybe even balanced.

We can only be effective in our lives if we are not constantly living on the edge of stress. A worthy method for stress reduction would allow us in any space of time to re-center and gain control of the emotion we tie into drama of everyday life. Meditation is one method that meets this challenge wherever it lives.

Here’s how to start:

Keep in mind patience is a virtue, as the mind does not always want to focus. Having unrealistic expectations towards positive results can create unnecessary pressure and take away the enjoyment of the experience.

Choose a quiet place to meditate and sit in a comfortable position. You can sit in any other position that is comfortable. The most important thing is to keep your posture straight to prevent our mind from becoming sleepy.

With your eyes turned downward, focus your attention to your breathing. Breathe naturally, preferably through the nostrils, without attempting to control the breath. Be aware of all of the sensations in your body that breathing creates. These sensations are your object of meditation, try to concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else.

At first, your mind will be very busy. If you discover that your mind has wandered and is following your thought patterns, immediately return your focus to your breath. Repeat this as many times as necessary until the mind settles on the breath.

If you can do this for only a few minutes a few times a day you will start to notice how good you feel once you have calmed yourself down and are more aware of your emotions. Start to gain awareness of times during the day when this practice could be helpful.

If you are interested in learning more about meditation practice for stress reduction, join us at The Center for Optimal Health on Thursday, September 15 at 6:00 pm. Dr. Kumar Arun will be instructing a small group on the beginning principles of meditation. Call 517-324-9400 to reserve your spot.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Does everyone need supplements?

Does everyone need supplements?
 “If people eat wild, fresh, organic, local, non-genetically modified food grown in virgin material and nutrient rich soils that has not been transported across vast distances and stored for months before being eaten...and work and live outside, breathe only fresh unpolluted air, drink only pure clean water, sleep nine hours a night, move their bodies every day, and are free from chronic stressors and exposure to environmental toxins, than perhaps they might not need supplements.”  ~Mark Hyman, MD
 It has grown increasing difficult to receive the nutrients necessary for our bodies to thrive through the means in which we have done so historically. Dr. Hyman has encapsulated this difficulty in this quote.
When it comes to obtaining the micronutrients your body needs, your best possible source is food, especially fruits and vegetables. But circumstances may prevent you from eating optimally every day. Supplements can provide insurance against dietary gaps. Also, researchers are finding that some important vitamins (Vitamin D is a great example) and minerals are protective against disease in amounts that may be difficult to obtain through diet alone, no matter how well you eat.
More than forty vitamins or minerals  are utilized in the body as a complex chain to preserve health and prevent illness. They must all be present in the body in optimal amounts for proper function. If one link in that chain is missing or deficient, benefit from the entire process can be reduced. It is therefore important to insure optimum intake of balanced nutrients.
Proper nutrient intake is vital to optimized health and longevity. You can obtain the right balance of nutrients by understanding your own nutritional needs. The Physicians of The Center for Optimal Health can help guide you through particular nutritional challenges or help to create a simple plan for optimized health. Let us know how we can help you reach your health goals.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What is lurking in your shampoo?

What is lurking in your shampoo?
All skin and hair care products contain ingredients that may be harmful to our environment once they have reached the water supply, but have you considered the effects they may have on your body? 
We are excited to announce our new line hair and skin care products. This line includes organic shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash, lip balm and bar soap.  These products are formulated to exclude an extensive list of chemical ingredients to help reduce your toxin exposure.  These include, but are not limited to, formaldehyde, parabens, and sodium lauryl sulfate.  
Here are some reasons why these ingredients were omitted from our organic product line:
Formaldehyde- used as a preservative or cleansing agent
·      Skin irritant
·      May cause watery, burning eyes
·      May cause burning sensations in the throat
·      May trigger asthma attacks in some people
·      Known carcinogen
Parabens- used to inhibit bacterial growth
·         Believed to mimic the activity of estrogen  which is associated with certain forms of breast cancer
·         May possibly affect the male and female reproductive organs
·         May decrease testosterone levels in men and account for a low sperm count
Sodium Laurel Sulfate- used as a detergent and foaming agent
·         Mimics estrogen activity
·         Is used in car wash soaps and engine degreasers because of its highly corrosive nature
·         May cause hair lost by attacking at the follicle
·         Dries skin by stripping the protective lipids from the surface
·         Denatures skin proteins which may give air borne pollutants a way to enter the body
·         Removes oil to an extent that may cause health issues ranging from eczema canker sores
·         Strips hair of moisture causing breakage and damage

These products and the extensive list of excluded chemicals are on display now in our lobby now. Check them out next time you are in and let us know if we can answer any questions.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Buddy System

It is Monday morning and you are embarking on your new plan for wellness. The food plan is in place and your exercise regimen designed. You are committed. Oh wait….one thing is missing. Who will support you when you hit a weak spot?

Studies have shown that those who commit to making a change with a friend, family member, or loved one are far more successful in remaining committed and obtaining goals. In a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition it was found that 80 % of people who had lost weight and were able to keep it off reported using social interaction as a means of support. Of those that rebounded only 38% reported using social support.

I have recently started walking with a group of neighbors. It is hard to say no when they show up at my door laced up in their walking shoes ready to go. It also helps me to up my pace and to make the time pass more quickly than when I am on my treadmill constantly glancing at the clock.

I also decided to post my weight loss goal above my desk at work. I post my progress as how many pounds until my goal is met, as I am not brave enough to want to post my weight for all of the world to see. I do find that in posting my intention my co-workers offer support as I stick to my daily plan.

My husband and I plan meals and shop for food together on Sundays and we take turns cooking throughout the week. I admit it would be much harder to stay on track if it weren’t for his support as well. He finds that he feels better, has more energy and also maintains his weight when he is part of the planning and preparation.

These are just some ideas of how I have recruited the people in my life to support my goals. Think about those around you that might lend an ear, might want to go for a walk, or take a cooking class. A healthy lifestyle is not about dieting. It is about taking an interested in foods and activities that help your body thrive. It is about finding time to focus on things that will engage your mind and help you reduce stress. This is easier to sell than asking a friend to start a diet with you. Think of someone in your life that might be interested in trying something new. You can support each other as you both learn together about how to create a healthy lifestyle.

If you are interested in starting a wellness plan at The Center for Optimal Health, or if you already have you should know that we have a plan for family and friends. If you schedule your first appointments together or if you refer someone for your Buddy System you can both receive incentives. Call our office at 517-324-9400 to learn more.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Understanding Your Thyroid

If you are still having symptoms of underactive Thyroid even though you are taking Thyroid supplementation there are several possible reasons for this. Your dose or type of thyroid may be wrong for you, or you are not taking the supplement on an empty stomach. All the hormones must be balanced, not just the thyroid.  A common coexisting issue is low functioning adrenals. The stress, poor sleep, toxins, drugs, etc, that injured your thyroid will often have injured your adrenal glands at the same time. You can test this by doing a 24 hour saliva adrenal stress profile.

Dr. Christine Blakeney

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bright Colorful Foods!

Warm weather has arrived (I am sure you have probably noticed), and it’s time for the delicious foods that we associate with the sunny days of summer: sweet berries, succulent plums, apricots, peaches, and nectarines; deep red Bing or bright yellow Rainier cherries; flavorful red and black grapes, velvety mangoes and kiwi; and tomatoes. Don't forget the wonderful veggies: sweet yellow or red onions, pungent garlic, dark leafy greens and lettuces, green zucchini squash, and bright colorful peppers. Makes you want to run out and find the first farmer's market, right?
All of these wonderful foods are colorful due to the fact that they contain plant pigments known as flavonoids. There are several types of flavonoids, and different foods vary in the types of flavonoids. No matter the type, flavonoids are an exciting area of nutritional research. Because of the high content of flavonoids in fruit- and vegetable-rich diets, scientists are investigating how they contribute to the promotion of health benefits associated with such diets.

Beneficial effects of flavonoids on human health are partly explained by their antioxidant activity. Because of the antioxidative property, it is suggested that flavonoids may delay or prevent the onset of diseases induced by free radicals. They also may inhibit low density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation by free radicals. Furthermore, flavonoids have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergenic effects.

So take advantage of the abundance of local produce this summer. Visit a farmer's market and fill your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables: They look good, taste good, and they’re good for you!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Why are you worthy of getting healthy this year?

Why are you worthy of getting healthy this year? I read this question on the website in an article about the 10 healthiest things you can do this year. Right away this struck a cord with me.

This question is interesting to me because of the word worthy. I talk to people every day that are trying to make the decision of what direction they are choosing for their healthcare needs. Someone said to me yesterday when we were talking about his tremendous result after finishing detoxification program “Isn’t it funny that we hesitate to spend money on something that will make strides in improving our health, but yet when our car needs a new part in order to operate efficiently we don’t give it a second thought.” I think this same question applies to something else that happened recently when I was talking to someone about taking the time to plan ahead for meals each week. She said “With all of the activities (sports) that I have with my family, it makes it too hard to prepare food during the week.” However, when we don’t take the time to feed our bodies properly they begin to dysfunction and do we truly have the energy to perform at our best?

Are we truly not worthy of getting healthy this year? I cannot imagine the answer to this question being yes for anyone. Therefore, we have to really explore the reason why we do not make our health top on our list of priorities. We are told when embark a plane that in case of emergency we are to place the oxygen mask over our face before assisting another. Isn’t putting our health on the back burner for the sake of other responsibilities ignoring the sage advice behind this most basic instruction? We are all worthy of, as Oprah says “Living our Best Life”. Take a minute today to consider three reasons why you are truly worthy of getting healthy this year.

Shannon Westgate
Program Director

Monday, March 28, 2011

Are you sending the right message?

Why do people get stuck on their weight loss project?  Being overweight is a complicated metabolic dysfunction in which the cells are not sending and receiving proper messages. Hormonal imbalance, nutritional deficiencies, poor sleep, inadequate detoxification pathways, drugs, heavy metal overload, and stress all play a part in your ability to use your food rather than store it.  If you are stressed when you eat, your body will respond by storing your food instead of using it.  Try this - before, during, and after eating do three belly breathing exercises.  Place your hands on your belly.  Breathe in deeply through your nose and stick out your belly at the same time.  As you exhale let your belly return to normal.  This exercise turns on your parasympathetic nervous system and tells your body "Everything here is fine - go ahead and burn these calories".  Christine Blakeney, D.O.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Plan to Succeed

The best of intentions can be derailed without a plan. We can learn about the types of food that make us feel good and gain understanding of portion control, but until we know how that translates into our day to day life we still do have a plan to succeed.

Each week I sit down on Sunday morning with my cup of tea, before the day gets busy and I go through cookbooks. I choose 5 or 6 meals that my husband and I will make during the coming week. I think about our schedules and what kind of time we will have and I plan accordingly. I then assess my needs, make a list, and do my shopping for the entire week.

With the food I need stocked for the week and my menu planned, I come home from work and choose one of our menu options. The best part is I don’t have to be creative at the end of the day when things tend to be a bit chaotic.

Some days I have more time than others. For instance, on Sunday afternoon I will put together a pot of soup when I have the time to do so. I then package the leftovers in individual serving containers. Some can go in the refrigerator for lunch and I may freeze others. This way it is easy for me to grab my lunch on the way out the door to work without having to prepare.

This may seem like a lot of work at first, but it is a healthy habit that can last a lifetime if you commit to your plan. It has saved me from the drive through pitfall or pizza delivery fallback option that crosses our minds when we get caught up in our day to day fluster. This way I am always prepared to easily choose a healthy option.

Shannon Westgate

Friday, March 18, 2011

Eating While You Eat

How can we learn to "eat while we eat"?  Try this. Sit at your dining table with your plate in front of you.  Admire how your food looks - the textures and the colors.  Lean forward and sniff.  What do you smell? Peppers? Onions? Basil?  Now taste the food . Move the food around your mouth tasting carefully. Chew slowly and enjoy how the flavors change as you chew. Only after you have chewed and enjoyed every flavor do you swallow. Great! You are eating while you eat!     Christine Blakeney, D.O.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Breathe Deeply to Burn Calories

Why do people get stuck on their weight loss project?  Being overweight is a complicated metabolic dysfunction in which the cells are not sending and receiving proper messages. Hormonal imbalance, nutritional deficiencies, poor sleep, inadequate detoxification pathways, drugs, heavy metal overload, and stress all play a part in your ability to use your food rather than store it.  If you are stressed when you eat, your body will respond by storing your food instead of using it.  Try this - before, during, and after eating do three belly breathing exercises.  Place your hands on your belly.  Breathe in deeply through your nose and stick out your belly at the same time.  As you exhale let your belly return to normal.  This exercise turns on your parasympathetic nervous system and tells your body "Everything here is fine - go ahead and burn these calories".  Christine Blakeney, D.O.